No. 44 Flying Lizard Porsche tests at Sebring - Chapman/Autosport ImageEnlarge Photo
Porsche Motorsport North America's new 911 GT3 RSR had its first outing this week at the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Winter Test on the Sebring International Raceway road course, in preparation for the 2012 ALMS season.
Over two days of testing, drivers declared the new car race-worthy and ready to tackle the tough competition that faces them from the BMW, Corvette and Ferrari contingents.
Patrick Long, from Flying Lizard Motorsports delineated some of the differences between it and the car used to compete in 2011. He was very pleased with the development of the new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and the progress made during the test:
"We brought our lap times down almost two seconds from the first hour to the last hour of this test weekend (about 16 hours total)," said Long. "This is unusual for this track, which tends to be bumpy enough to distract you from the task at hand. The new RSR," he noted, "has a different feel than the previous model and this process really challenges your race crew and engineers as well as the drivers, so good feedback and communications are essential."
For the 60th anniversary Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, Long co-drives with regular partner Joerg Bergmeister and fellow factory driver Marco Holzer.
Patrick Long - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
His views complemented those of Bryan Sellers, who drives the Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with factory driver Wolf Henzler and Martin Rogginger in this upcoming endurance contest. He commented that the different feel of the car over the famous Sebring bumps from turn No. 17 to the end of Turn No. 1 made it hard for him in the first session, but by the end of the week he was going faster than ever.
"Driving and adjusting. More driving and more adjusting," Sellers said. "We had to remember we had new tires, a brand new car, different springs and more. Once we started dialing in our balance and setup, we realized what a great car the new RSR is."
A veteran of many different Porsche sports racing cars and a superb tester, German Sascha Maassen, who will co-drive the Paul Miller Racing Porsche with Bryce Miller and Rob Bell noted, "A combination of skills from the Paul Miller crew and support from Porsche Motorsport North America engineers - and our new Dunlop tire partners - compressed several weeks of testing results into two very productive days."
All three teams - Flying Lizard, Team Falken Tire and Paul Miller Racing - intend to test again privately at Sebring prior to next month's 12-hour race.
Ten of the GT cars testing at the track this week (there were 13 GT cars at the test) went quicker than last year's pole position qualifying time, so in addition to the introduction of the new Porsche, the Ferrari, Corvette and BMW teams have improved their cars as well. As is traditional, the hot GT battle should continue throughout the 2012 ALMS season, predicted Jens Walther, president of Porsche Motorsport North America.
"The introduction of this new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR is exciting for all our employees, our customers and our race fans," he said. "We are proud that our ALMS teams have made so much setup progress in such a short time during the Sebring Winter Test. We know, however, that the championship battle will be hard work, but we are confident this car gives us the right tool to compete for the title."